Innovative programmes of woodland based activities for people with poor mental health.

By getting people back to nature, Branching Out helps to tackle the problems people face with anxiety, depression, isolation, and other long-term conditions. People overcome their problems together with support and teamwork out in the woods. Whether it’s through cooking food on a camp fire, building a shelter, walking, tai-chi or mindfulness, the natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for encouraging an enhanced quality of life, engagement in social activities and peer to peer support.

ACT & Branching Out

Overseen by Forestry Commission Scotland, Branching Out is a national partnership programme between NHS, FCS and community organisations providing 12-week programmes of woodland activities on referral from mental health services. ACT’s role in the project has been to establish a network across Argyll and the Isles. This provision of an area-wide umbrella organisation is unique to Argyll and has proved extremely successful. Our approach is considered nationally as an example of best practice. The success of the programme has also generated demand from participants for a progression programme which is under development. Some graduates from the Branching Out programme are now using their new skills to volunteer within their local communities.

ACT has supported community workers, mental health professionals and project managers across Argyll to achieve the qualifications required to become Branching Out leaders.  We have programmes running regularly in Mid-Argyll, Helensburgh, Oban, Cowal and Bute and are working with community mental health teams to extend our network to cover other areas.


Some of the activities during Branching Out sessions


Branching Out funding

Branching Out Argyll has been funded by Forestry Commission Scotland, Integrated Care Fund, the Argyll and Bute Health and Wellbeing Fund, and Argyll and Bute Council's Community Development Fund and is currently funded by the Transforming Self-Management Fund until March 2019.

We are seeking new funding to continue and develop our Branching Out programmes and to maintain our commitment to supporting people with chronic mental health issues in rural areas. We want to continue to deliver supported activities as we know it is extremely beneficial for a lot of people. However, there is a real risk of a funding gap. A funding gap risks deterioration in participants’ and graduates’ mental health and missed opportunities for helping many more people. With your help we can eliminate this risk by ensuring the Branching Out and Moving On programmes continue.

If you can, please support the continuation of Branching Out in Argyll by making a donation to our appeal.

Contact Branching Out

To get involved with Branching Out or to find out more, please contact Sara at: [email protected]